August 26, 2011

Elegance & Distress

Let's talk a bit about the term "shabby chic" . I have never been super comfortable with this descriptive phrase but after reading a up a bit on it I am beginning to warm up to it. This is the official Wikipedia definition : "Shabby chic is a form of interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their age and signs of wear and tear or new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique. At the same time, a soft, minimalistic, and feminine feel is emphasized to differentiate it from regular vintage decor; hence the "chic" in the name."

What I like about "shabby chic" it's the embracement of wear , patina , and distress. If you have been to my store you might have noticed that I love items with obvious wear and tear from real use . I call it character . There is absolutely nothing wrong with a sterile , prisine , modern home but I prefer a few signs of human presence. Who doesn't love the warm inviting look of a solid wood table with worn edges and all the associated knicks and scratches that accumilate after a few decades of real use by real people. A table that has conveniently broken in by time and human interaction. To truly fit the S.C. definition the table would also have to have some elements of elegance and sophistication. 

Today you can pay a small fortune for a new table or chair at Restoration Hardware or Williams and Sonoma that has been beaten by chains , bleached , rusted , and sanded to look like it is vintage. Why not just buy the real thing? Why outsource the job to third world workers when you can buy a table beaten up by good old Americans from times gone by. It is a lot better for the environment and usually more gentle on the wallet. 

Typically I tend to lean toward the institutional, industrial, and rustic side of the vintage furniture world but I just got in this elegant "Shabby Chic" small parlor couch with plenty of patina in all the right places. It features a decadent cream silk / jacquard like fabric and hand carved wood details on the exposed frame. The glamorous fringe surrounding the base is th icing on the cake. Sound too stuffy for you? Then throw in a few decades of wear and tear to subtly remind you of our impermanence and the fact everything eventually fades. Fortunately, this sofa is clean and comfortable with plenty of spring left in it. The majority of wear is tastefully limited to the arms where it actually looks great. 

Fashion photographer David Wentworth visited my store in search of an elegant but rustic set motif and ended up using the sofa for one of his recent fashion shoots. Below are a few of the shots. More pics can be found on my facebook page or on craigslist. It measures 58" long by 31" deep and is 17" tall at the seat, 28" at the arms and 31" in back . It is priced at $495.00